Dear SenShot readers. Greetings and welcome to the newest reoccurring feature here on the site - “Brose Knows”. On a weekly basis, I, Derrick Brose, will summon the far reaches of my being, scouring my innards for every shred of hockey and Senators related knowledge and instinct in an attempt to answer a burning question. These questions will vary from week to week, but be assured, each question will be burning, each question will predominantly, but not exclusively, pertain to an Ottawa Senators related issue, and each question will be subject to the full extent of the Brose psyche.
This week’s, and the inaugural Brose Knows question:
Will the Senators’ (Ministry of) Offence be more potent or more futile than last season?
Could Ottawa’s offence be any more punchless than it was last season? With 192 goals for, the Sens ranked 29th in the 30 team league in goal scoring and the total was the second lowest ever by an Ottawa Senators team in it’s 19-year modern history. A lot of “worst case scenarios” played out last season and the results were poorer than Neil on Jeopardy’s Kids Week. From key injuries to under-achievement to lack of cohesion to questionable coaching, it was absolute debauchery-on-ice (and off it) at times. Still, there are those that contend that the 2011-2012 version of the Sens will be even more inept around the net.
One of Bruce Garrioch’s league executive sources says that, “the Senators are going to have a tough time scoring,”, while Adam Proteau of the Hockey News claims the Sens are a “total disaster” – well damn, it looks like the verdict is in, the defendant guilty on all counts. But is condemning the Sens’ offence the easy thing to do? Is it common sense? Ottawa is going to have a boat load of young, unproven talent and fresh faces – does that automatically translate into trouble putting the biscuit in the basket? To answer this question, I have isolated what I believe to be seven (7) keys or “pending Parliamentary bills”, if you will. These “bills”, and how they play out over the course of the season, will be crucial to the success or failure of the Senators and the Ministry of Offence.
Bill C-123 – Coaching - The first key “bill” in determining how the offence fairs in the Nation’s Capital is all about the men behind the bench – Paul MacLean and his assistants Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds. Hired a few long weeks ago, these three will be charged with the tasks of first, forming a team out of all the available pieces and prospects, and second, getting that team to function. In the OHL last year, Cameron and Reeds’ teams, the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors and Owen Sound Attack, generated 287 and 283 goals respectively, good for first and second in the league. With the Wings last season, MacLean helped guide the team to second overall in goals for with 257. Just for shiggles, that’s 827 goals on teams coached by the three men now behind the bench in Ottawa. It’s obviously ludicrous to infer anything from those numbers, other than the fact that these men are capable of getting their teams to score goals, but can they get a rebuilding team in Ottawa to score with regularity?
Bill C-01 – Chemistry - If one were to head over to the Senators official webpage right now, one would be greeted by the following message, “New players. New coach. New season” (New car smell). Yep, there will be no shortage of newness in Ottawa come September, and with the new come exciting opportunity and a new set of challenges. For the Sens to have any measure of success scoring goals and otherwise, they will have to tear off the name tags fairly quickly and develop the magic, the chemistry amongst one another. Individualism is death in the NHL. This year’s training camp, bonding excursion may be the single-most important one in Senators history.
Bill C-19 – Jason Spezza - This bill is about as self-explanatory as they come. Spezza is the straw that stirs the drink that is Ottawa’s offence. He is the catalyst, the game-breaker, he can make snipers out of pea-shooting right-wingers, he can turn a power play on its head. As Spezza goes, the goals usually go in tow, but can the team’s future captain keep the red light burning in ’11-’12?
Bill C-911 – Healthy Bodies - (Milan Michalek, I’m looking at you.) Health, or lack thereof, was a major ingredient in the collapse of 2010-2011. The injuries were numerous as they were to key players. All the chemistry and good will goes straight to the incinerator if the injury bug bites down hard. Does our fearless leader have (at least) one more 70+ game season in the tank? The Ministry would benefit tremendously.
Bill C-65 – “O” from the “D” - With the top ranked prospect in the world, David Rundblad, set to join all-star Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar, hoping to rebound from a disappointing year, the Sens will have one of the most dynamic offences on the back-end in the entire league. From the perspective of raw offensive ability, there really are only a handful of other teams that compare. Goals and assists from the “D” corps will be almost as important as their ability to defend against them.
Bill C-41 – Goaltending – Trust me, I’ve thought this through. Craig Anderson’s importance to the Ministry of Offence cannot be understated. If Mr. Anderson can make the lion’s share of the saves he’s supposed to make, including some saves he’s not supposed to, his teammates will be more inclined to “go for it” offensively. Without having to constantly worry about every mistake ending up in the back of their net, team confidence will grow like bacteria in a petri dish. But can Anderson withstand the rigors of back stopping a team that will often be a mess defensively?
Bill C-777 – Luck - The final bill that will impact the offensive output of the Senators is plain old lady luck. Like every other sport, hockey is a game of centimeters – a cm here, the puck goes off the post, a cm there, and the puck doesn’t quite get held in the zone. It goes without saying that the Sens will require their fair share of puck luck for continued productivity in the offensive department next season.
What Brose Knows…
With these bills in mind, we can now look to how they will help answer the question of Ottawa’s offence next season. This where it gets complicated and highly mathematical. After crunching the numbers, taking into account weighted values and spurious relationships, it is my belief that if the Sens can perform at or above average on any combination of four or more of the bills, they will score more goals than last season. For example, if Ottawa gets the coaching prowess, develops the chemistry, recieves a lot of offence from the defence, and has the above par goaltending, YET Spezza slides back a bit on offence, injuries creep in, and some of the luck bounces wide, the team should still produce more than ’10-’11. On the flip side, if the team performs poorly on four or more bills, they will certainly find themselves behind last years totals.
I’m inclined to align with the
notion prediction that the Ministry of Offence will indeed fair adequately on at least four bills and will break through the 200 goal mark. The areas where I think the team will perform adequately are coaching, chemistry, Spezz-dispensing, Offence from the “D”, and Goaltending. This part is pure crystal ball gazing, so take it for what it’s worth.
Now you know what Brose “Knows”.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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